Labour and tax laws in Iran

Labour and tax laws in Iran

Labour and tax laws in Iran govern the employment and fiscal contributions of people working and living in Iran. Roughly one-fourth of Iran's labour forc is engaged in manufacturing and construction. Another one-fifth is engaged in agriculture, and the remainder are divided almost evenly between occupations in services, transportation and communication, and finance. Women are allowed to work outside the home but face restrictions in a number of occupations, and the number of women in the workforce is relatively small in light of their level of education. Some of the numerous refugees in the country are allowed to work but, with the exception of a highly skilled minority, are generally restricted to low-wage, manual labour positions in construction and agriculture. Generally speaking, Iranians have the reputation to be industrialist and entrepreneurial.

In 2006, Iran’s labor force was estimated at 26.2 million, of which women accounted for 33 percent. A continuing strong labour force growth unmatched by commensurate real economic growth is driving up unemployment to a level considerably higher than the official estimate of 14%. According to experts, annual economic growth above 5% would be needed to keep pace with the 900,000 new labour force entrants each year. In 2006, the average annual salary in Iran was US$2,700.

In 2004, about 45 percent of the government's budget came from exports of oil and natural gas revenues, although this varies with the fluctuations in world petroleum markets and 31 percent came from taxes and fees. Government spending as percent of total budget was 6% for health care, 16% for education and 8% for the military in the period 1992-2000 and contributed to an average annual inflation rate of 14 percent in the period 2000-2004.

Labour Law

There is a minimum national wage applicable to each sector of activity fixed by the Supreme Labor Council. In 2005 the minimum wage, determined by the Supreme Labor Council, was about US$120 per month (US$1,440 per year). Membership in the social security system for all employees is compulsory.

Although Iranian workers have, in theory, a right to form labour unions, there is, in actuality, no union system in the country. Workers are represented ostensibly by the Workers' House, a state-sponsored institution that nevertheless attempts to challenge some state policies. Guild unions operate locally in most areas but are limited largely to issuing credentials and licenses. The right of workers to strike is generally not respected by the state, and since 1979 strikes have often been met by police action.

The comprehensive Labor Law covers all labor relations in Iran, including hiring of local and foreign staff. The Labor Law provides a very broad and inclusive definition of the individuals it covers, and written, oral, temporary and indefinite employment contracts are all recognized.

The Iranian Labor Law is very employee-friendly and makes it extremely difficult to layoff staff. Employing personnel on consecutive six-month contracts is illegal, as is dismissing staff without proof of a serious offence. Labor disputes are settled by a special labor council, which usually rules in favor of the employee.

The Labor Law provides the minimum standards an employer must adhere to when forming an employment relationship. The minimum age for workers in Iran is 15 years, but large sectors of the economy (including small businesses, agricultural concerns, and family-owned enterprises) are exempted.

Provisions of Employment Contract

To have a valid contract concluded under the Law, the following provisions must be included:

*1. Type of Work, vocation or duty that must be undertaken by the worker;
*2. Basic compensation and supplements thereto;
*3. Working hours, holidays and leaves;
*4. Place of performance of duties;
*5. Probationary period, if any;
*6. Date of conclusion of contract;
*7. Duration of employment; and
*8. Any other terms and conditions required according to nature of employment.

The employer may require the employee to be subject to a probationary period. However, the probation time may not exceed one month for unskilled workers and three months for skilled and professional workers. During the probation period, either party may immediately terminate the employment relationship without cause or payment of severance pay. The only caveat being that if the employer terminates the relationship, he must pay the employee for the entire duration of the probation period.

uspension of Employment Contract

The fact that the employment contract can be suspended by an employee under certain conditions presents yet another challenge to employers. What this allows is suspension of the employment contract under the following conditions:

*1. The period of military service (active, contingency and reserve), as well as voluntary enlistment during conflicts. This period shall be considered part of the employee's service record at place of employment;
*2. The closure of a workshop or parts thereof due to force majeure;
*3. Educational leave for up to four years; and
*4. The period of detention that does not lead to conviction;

Once the conditions giving rise to the suspension of the contract are removed, the employer must allow for return of the employee to work. If the position is filled or eliminated, the employer is obligated to provide a similar position for the employee. Failure to do the above is considered wrongful discharge and subject to legal action.

Termination of Employment Contract

The Law allows for termination of the employment contract only under the following instances:

*1. Death of employee;
*2. Retirement of employee;
*3. Total disability of employee;
*4. Expiration of the duration of the employment contract;
*5. Conclusion of work in task specific contracts; and
*6. Resignation of the employee.

The employer is bound to pay benefits under all of the above scenarios according to the years of service.

Dismissal of an Employee

An employee may only be dismissed upon approval of the Islamic Labor Council or the Labor Discretionary Board. Grounds for dismissal include an employee's neglect in carrying out his/her duties of violation of disciplinary by-laws of the employer. The employer must have provided written prior notice of the employee's violations. If the board is not convinced that the employee's dismissal is justified, the employer must reinstate the employee. Once an employee is dismissed, the employer is obligated to provide the legal severance package.

everance & Termination Benefits

The Law mandates the following compensation for terminated, disabled and suspended employee:

*1. Suspended Employee - Where an employee is suspended without cause the employer must reinstate the employee and pay for all damages and compensation resulted from the wrongful suspension;
*2. Terminated Employee - An employer is under legal obligation to provide thirty (30) days salary for every year of service for employees made redundant or retired;
*3. Disabled Employee - The employer must pay 30 days salary for every year of service. Moreover, if disability of an employee is due to working conditions, the employer must pay 60 days salary for every year of employee's service period.

Working Hours & Overtime

The workweek in Iran is based on a 44-hour week. Typically, employees work Saturday through Wednesday (8 hours per day) and a half a day on Thursday (4 hours). Any hours worked beyond these will entitle the employee to overtime. The Law mandates a payment of 40% above the hourly wage to employees for any accrued overtime. The employee must consent to overtime work.

Holidays & Leave

Employees are entitled to leave on all official state holidays (approximately 22 days a year) and "Fridays". Any employee working during these holidays will be entitled to overtime pay. Additionally, employees are entitled to one-month holiday per annum. The annual leave for those employees engaged in hard and hazardous employment shall be five weeks per annum. Employees are entitled to save up to 9 days of their annual leave.

In case of termination, disability or redundancies, employees must be compensated for any accrued leave. Finally, employees are entitled to 3 days of paid vacation for marriage or death of a spouse, father, mother or child.

Maternity Leave

Women employees are entitled to 90 days of maternity leave. The employee's salary during maternity leave will be paid according to the provisions of the Social Security Act. Maternity leave must be considered part of an employee's service record. Employers must provide returning employees with the same position.

Employment of Foreign Nationals

The Law forbids employment of foreign nationals without a proper work permit. Diplomats, United Nations employees and foreign press reporters are exempt from this requirement. A work permit to a foreign national will be issued only if the following conditions are met:

*1. Lack of expertise among Iranian nationals;
*2. The foreign national being qualified for the position; and
*3. The expertise of the foreign national will be used for training of, and later replacement by, Iranian individuals.

Work permits will be issued, renewed or extended for a maximum period of one year. Moreover, no exit visa will be granted to the foreign national unless the national has paid all due taxes, duties, etc.


A very recent law provides that workshops with less than five employees will not be subject to the labor laws.

Health care

The Iranian constitution entitles Iranians to basic health care, and most receive subsidized prescription drugs and vaccination programs. An extensive network of public clinics offers basic care at low cost, and general and specialty hospitals operated by the Ministry of Health provide higher levels of care. In most large cities, well-to-do persons use private clinics and hospitals that charge high fees. Specialized medical facilities are concentrated in urban areas, but rural communities have relatively good access to primary care physicians at clinics in villages, where the government-sponsored primary health care system has raised the level of health education and prenatal care since the late 1990s.

ocial Protection

Iran has a comprehensive social protection system with some 28 social insurance, social assistance, and disaster relief programs benefiting large segments of the population. These programs include training and job-search assistance, health and unemployment insurance, disability, old-age and survivorship pensions, and in kind- or in-kind transfers including subsidies (e.g., housing, food, energy), rehabilitation and other social services (e.g., long-term care services for the elderly), and even marriage and burial assistance.

Despite significant achievements in human development and poverty reduction, serious challenges to growth call for reform. While labor-market pressures continue to increase because of demographic dynamics and increased participation of women in the labor force, Iran’s economy is still unable to generate enough needed jobs to absorb the new flows into the labor market and at the same time reduce unemployment extensively.

In addition to income tax, employers are required to contribute to the State Social Security Fund and the Employment Fund. For social security and unemployment insurance, the employee pays 7% of salary (between the ages of 18-65), employer (20 to 23%), the State (3%). Independent workers pay 12-18%, depending on the type of coverage sought. In 2003 the minimum standard pension was 50 percent of the worker’s earnings but not less than the amount of the minimum wage.

The social security makes it possible to ensure the employees against unemployment, the disease, old age (retirement pension), the occupational accidents. Iran did not legislate in favour of a universal social protection, but in 1996, the Center of the statistics of Iran estimates that more than 73% of the Iranian population is covered by a Social Security. The Organization of the social security, managed by the Ministry of social protection, delivers also family benefits and of maternity under certain conditions. Iran spent 22.5 percent of its 2003 national budget on social welfare programs. More than 50 percent of that amount covered pensions.

Welfare programs for the needy are managed by more than 30 individual public agencies and semi-state organizations called Bonyad, as well as by several private non-governmental organizations. In 2003 the government began to consolidate its welfare organizations in an effort to eliminate redundancy and inefficiency.

Tax Laws

All foreign investors doing business in Iran or deriving income from sources in Iran are subject to taxation. Depending on the type of activity the foreign investor is engaged in, various taxes and exemptions are applicable, including profit tax, income tax, property tax, etc [] . The Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs is the government agency authorized to levy and collect taxes.

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Iranian taxation laws are highly complex and inconsistently applied. Iranian taxation generates particular unease among foreign firms because they appear to be arbitrarily enforced – tax bills are initially based on 'assumed earnings' calculated by the Finance and Economy Ministry according to the size of the company and the sector in which it operates. Factors such as the quality and location of a company's offices are also widely believed to have an impact on tax assessment.

There are virtually millions of people who do not pay taxes in Iran and hence operate outside the formal economy. [ [ Ahmadinejad's Achilles Heel: The Iranian Economy] ]

ales tax & VAT

Sales tax rate in Iran is 3%. It will be replaced by a VAT in Fall 2008. [ [ Press TV - VAT to replace Iran sales tax in fall ] ]

Property tax

History of Income tax

Income tax was initiated during the times of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The last adjustment of corporate tax has been done on 02/16/2001.

Personal Income Tax of Local Employees

Taxable income consists of salary and benefits. As presented in the following table, income is taxed at 0-35% (maximum).

Employers are required to make the necessary tax deductions from their employees’ payroll and submit them to the tax authorities. However, when calculating taxable income, exemptions and deductions are allowed.

Local Employees Salary Tax Rates (2007)

Personal Income Tax of Foreign Employees

Foreign nationals working in Iran are also subject to income tax based on their salary. Foreign employees cannot obtain an exit visa from Iran unless they provide proof that they have paid their due taxes, and since they need to obtain an exit permit when their presence in Iran is based on a work permit, the government can easily enforce this rule.

The government assumes a certain salary for employees depending on their position and country of origin. The assumed minimum monthly salaries range from US$2,500 for unskilled European workers to US$7,000 for European managing directors. The income of foreign nationals are subject the tax rate of 35%.

hare transfer tax

"The Amendment" has changed the regulations regarding calculation of tax on transfer of shares and their rights in Iranian corporate entities. In the case of shares listed on the Tehran Stock Exchange (TSE) the tax on transfer of such shares and other rights is 0.5 per cent of the sales price. No other taxes are payable (i.e. capital gain taxes).

In the case of transfer of the shares and their rights to other corporate entities (ie. those not listed on the TSE) a flat rate of four per cent of value of the shares and rights transferred applies. No other taxes will be charged. "The Amendment" has removed the requirement to value the shares in this category.

Corporate and Profit Tax

A new flat rate corporation tax of 25 per cent payable on the profits of corporate commercial entities has been introduced. This rate replaces the old corporation tax of 10 per cent and progressive rates of income tax (12-54 per cent) on reserves and distributable income. Apart from the 25 per cent corporation tax and the 0.3 per cent Chamber of Commerce tax no more taxes will be payable by the corporate entity or the shareholders. [,,0_S2-1_CLNTXID0019-2_-3_PWB1151550-4_doingbusiness-5_-6_-7_,00.html#taxation]

The new rate of corporation tax will also apply to joint venture corporate entities registered in Iran. The tax incidence will therefore be on the corporate entity and not on the shareholder. The calculation of the tax has been simplified.

All contracting work performed by foreign contractors, whether or not the company is registered in Iran, is taxed. For contracts signed before March 21st 2003, gross taxable income is calculated as gross contract receipts less the cost of imported material. Income is then taxed at 12% of gross taxable income less contract retention. For contracts signed after March 21st 2003, taxable income is the gross contract receipts less contract expenses. Income is taxed at 25 per cent less 5 per cent taxes withheld at source.

Taxation of foreign companies

The Tax Act had divided the source of income earned by foreign companies either direct or through their branches in Iran into three main categories [] :

*Income earned in Iran by way of contracting operations
*Income earned from Iran by way of royalties and licensing fees
*Other activities - trading operations, etc [Note: "The Amendment" has introduced certain changes in the tax treatment of the above activities.]

Income from royalty and licensing fees received from industrial and mining companies, government ministries and municipalities, and income from film-screening rights are subject to a deemed taxable coefficient on income of 20 per cent. All other income from royalties and licences from foreign companies is subject to a deemed taxable coefficient on income of 30 per cent. The coefficients are based on the standard corporate tax rate of 25 per cent, so that the effective tax rate is either 5 per cent or 7.5 per cent. [,,0_S2-1_CLNTXID0019-2_-3_PWB1151550-4_doingbusiness-5_-6_-7_,00.html#taxation]

[Note: "The Amendment" has removed the confusion surrounding 'technical assistance contracting' by including 'technical assistance' and 'transfer of technology' in contracting operations subject to tax on the basis of 12 per cent of annual fees.]

Tax on Liaison, Representative and Branch Offices

The same corporate and profit taxes will be applied to the taxable income of branches of foreign companies (contractors, consultant engineers, et al.).

Other income earning activities of foreign branches will be subject to taxation on an actual basis, ie. based on their income tax return as filed and supported by their statutory accounting books. [,,0_S2-1_CLNTXID0019-2_-3_PWB1151550-4_doingbusiness-5_-6_-7_,00.html#taxation]

Expenses incurred in Iran by Iranian registered branches and representative offices of foreign companies that are not authorised by their head offices to engage in any trading activity but are only authorised to conduct marketing and market research in Iran are tax deductible upon presentation of receipts from their head office.

Tax Advantages & Exemptions

Income tax exemptions are available to new factories established in special areas, and last from four to eight years, from the first day of operations. In addition, 20% of the reported profit of all manufacturing, mining, assembly plant and related engineering companies are exempt from income taxes. Tax incentives, meanwhile, are available to manufacturing, mining, agricultural activities, exports and investment in special areas [] .

Tax Exemption - Major changes

The exemptions on exports of manufactured and agricultural goods remain in force, but an ambiguity has occurred in "the Amendment" regarding exemptions extended to the public sector (Iranian Government owned entities). Government owned enterprises and their shares in the private sector entities were excluded from all exemptions granted under the Tax Act.

This exclusion has been removed from the relevant texts in "the Amendment". Until clarification is provided, it is not certain whether or not the government minority shares in the private sector manufacturing, mining and exports activities would enjoy the exemptions granted.

The 50 per cent tax exemption previously granted to tourism enterprises has been extended to include five-star hotels.


Losses sustained by all taxpayers engaged in trading and other activities, who are required to keep proper books of account, provided they are accepted by the tax authorities; will be carried forward and written off against future profits without any limitation. [,,0_S2-1_CLNTXID0019-2_-3_PWB1151550-4_doingbusiness-5_-6_-7_,00.html#taxation]

Municipal Tax

This tax only applies to companies, which are subject to a municipal tax at the rate of three per cent of their taxable income.

Islamic taxes

In addition to these mandatory taxes, "Islamic taxes" are collected on a "voluntary" basis. These include an individual's income tax (Arabic khums, “one-fifth”); an alms-tax (zakat), which has a variable rate and benefits charitable causes; and a land tax (kharaj), the rate of which is based on the principle of one-tenth ('ushr) of the value of crops, unless the land is tax-exempt.

Appeals procedure

It is noteworthy to point out that "the Amendment" has removed the second stage of appeal process. Appeals to the High Council of Taxation could only be made on questions of non-compliance with the provisions of the Tax Act rather than questions of fact.

Official accountants

"The Amendment" has for the first time after 1979 reintroduced the concept of the tax audit to be undertaken by 'official accountants' and their designated firms. The taxpayer or the tax administration can choose to appoint an official accountant or a designated firm of official accountants to examine his records and report to the tax authorities.

Tariff rates

Following is an indicative listing of import tariff rates in 2006:

*chemical products - 10 per cent
*ordinary metals - 10 per cent
*measurement instruments - 10 per cent
*medical equipment - 10 per cent
*food industry - 15 per cent
*mining raw production - 15 per cent
*leather industry - 15 per cent
*paper and wood fabrics - 15 per cent
*mechanical machinery - 15 per cent
*agricultural raw production - 25 per cent
*electric machinery - 25 per cent
*automotive vehicles - 100 per cent

Note: excessive tariffs on consumer goods has favoured contraband "into" the country in recent years. Inversely, large scale state subsidies (accounting for about 40% of government spendings in 2007) for basic commodities like gasoline, cement, wheat, etc. have favoured domestic over-consumption and contraband (exports) with other countries, thus draining huge sums from the government's coffers (See also: Ministry of Petroleum of Iran#Gasoline subsidies).

ee also

*Constitution of Iran
*Education in Iran
*Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company
*List of trade unions by country
*Iranian calendar
*Economy of Iran
*Bonyad - Iran's foundations which control 20% of Iran's GDP.
*Government of Iran

References and notes

Useful links

* [ Direct Tax Laws - Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance, Iran]
* [ Paying Taxes in Iran - from the World Bank]
* [ Education and training to Iran - Australian Trade]
* [ Summary of Principal Iranian Taxes] (document has not been updated)
* [ Tehran Chamber of Commerce] - Free Tax Consulting

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